Erma Bombeck once said, “Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart!”.
Oh, pause for a moment, and read that once again.
We might not possibly be hopping on another Titanic adventure right now, or probably not even craving a dessert. Yet the urgency in the statement calls to us.
Everyday is a rat race as each one of us strives to achieve the rather small or big goals we set for ourselves. We look at life as a forever entity, aiming to accomplish tasks over a span of days, months or even, years together. Customarily, in the rush of living within this bubble of idea, we tend to shove away a very vital aspect of living, namely- “Carpe Diem” which literally means “seize the day”.
This wise aphorism dates back to 23 BCE, extracted from Quintus Horatius’ (also known as Horace) eight lines long poem, Ode XI, from his first book of Odes.
He shrewdly suggests the idea of “seizing the day”. In fact, preferably, gently “pluck” it like the most delicate flower, and value each and every moment of our existence, no matter what life throws at us.
Didn’t we all feel it when Katrina Kaif says “Seize the day my friend… Pehle is din ko poori tarah jiyo, Phir chalis ke bare mein sochna” in Zindagi na milegi Dobara? Or maybe when Avicii sang the famous lines “One day, you’ll leave this world behind; So live a life you will remember!” from The Nights.
In fact you’ll be surprised to know that celebrities like Virat Kohli have marked reference to this ideology on their social media handles by simply quoting “Carpe Diem”.
Why do most of such remarkable events in history end up pin pointing to carpe diem? If it really is an ideology of such great significance, then how do we assimilate the benefits of it in our lives?
There are a multitude of ways to explore the concept of carpe diem. Cultural thinker and writer Roman Krznaric reveals to us the five essential interpretations of carpe diem over centuries through his studies- an ensemble of ways that humankind has developed to seize the day.
The most popular of these interpretations being “Opportunity”:
Take up new opportunities that may never be repeated, whether it’s the career break of a lifetime or the chance to rescue a crumbling relationship. Be keen and open to explore new horizons, and grow past your comfort zone.
A second strategy is “Hedonism”:
Seize the day through sensory pleasures. Hop back on your favourite hobbies, learn a new skill or explore new domains of your interest. Don’t forget to invest time in building healthy bonds and embracing relationships that matter. It is essential to love freely, and feel loved.
A third taste of carpe diem is “ Presence”:
Breathe and feel the current moment. You might want to dance your heart out or simply sit for a peaceful meditation, else play your favourite sport- anything that rejuvenates your soul.
Next comes “Spontaneity”:
Be reckless! This idea suggests taking risks by throwing plans and routines to the wind and becoming more experimental in the way we live.
The final approach is “Politics”:
This is the realm of collective carpe diem, such as taking to the streets to topple a dictator or mobilising a social movement to tackle climate change. It encourages taking up initiatives to bring about social, political or environmental changes.
Finally, what is it that unites these five aspects of carpe diem? It is nonetheless, “The fear of death”. While we expend much of our energy attempting to deny this reality, a taste of death on our lips may be just what we need to truly appreciate the wisdom of Horace’s ancient ideal and bring it into our lives.
Krznaric wisely concludes that at the end of the day there is no ultimate meaning of life, whether written in scripture, the stars, or our DNA. It is the meaning we define for ourselves.
So what are we waiting for? Let’s set wide the window and drink the day! Carpe Diem, amigos.